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The Mandate

History of Prayer in America's Schools

By Editorial Staff
Published April 22, 2008

by Gary Bergel


Editor’s preface: This article is of importance to Chinese students because it gives a clear picture of what is wrong with America today. It was written for the benefit of Americans, but it is also of importance to Chinese students. What would happen if all Chinese students – from the youngest grade to the graduate level – prayed for our country each day?

- Wang Jiapu


A recent statistical analysis by David Barton graphically illustrates how America has plummeted from righteous living, prosperity and success in the last quarter century. Consider the following chart compiled from his study, America: To Pray or Not to Pray.1

As you might have already noticed on Mr. Barton’s graph, America’s moral decline rapidly accelerated following one event – the U.S. Supreme Court’s removal of prayer from America’s schools. On June 25, l962, 39 million students were forbidden to do what they and their predecessors had been doing since the founding of the U.S. – publicly calling upon the name of the Lord at the beginning of each school day.

The New York school children which prompted the Engel vs. Vitale ruling had simply prayed: “Almighty God, we acknowledge our dependence on Thee and beg Thy blessing over us, our parents, our teachers and our nation.”

America has experienced radical decline in each of the four areas which the children’s prayer touched upon: youth, family, education, national life. Minor recovery has occurred only since 1980 when the election of President Reagan brought forth a renewed emphasis on “traditional” values.

The removal of prayer from Amerca’s public schools was a violation of the third commandment which commands us “not to take the name of the Lord in vain.” By the judicial act of forbidding invocation, the Court audaciously elevated a secularized system of education beyond the authority, reach and blessing of God Himself. Worse than taking the Lord’s sacred name in vain is treating it with contempt, denying it rightful place and stripping it from public use and even from the lips of children. Jesus’ own expressed desire, “Let the little children come to Me, and do not forbid them” was also violated by these judges, many of whom were raised in Christian homes.

The “evangelical prophet,” Oswald Chambers (1874-1917), saw that the empty promises made by so many Christians actually result in great “spiritual leakage.” He admonished his followers: “Always beware of vowing, it is a risky thing. If you promise to do a thing and don’t do it, it means the weakening of your moral nature. We are all so glib in the way we promise and don’t perform and never realize that it is sapping our moral energy.“2

Think then, what happens to a nation rife with perjury, broken marriage covenants, unforgiveness, cults with demonic covenants, extortion, bribery, libel, slander, profanity, hypocrisy, idle talk, and lawsuits initiated solely for revenge and personal gain. We are living witnesses that truly “the Lord does not hold such a nation guiltless.”

Regardless of how the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, we must each, as Oswald Chambers declared, realize that “God’s laws are not watered down to suit anyone; if God did that He would cease to be God. The moral law never alters for the noblest or the weakest; it remains abidingly and eternally the same.”

1 David Barton, America: To Pray or Not to Pray, (Aledo, TX: Speciality Research Associates).
2 Oswald Chambers, The Best From All His Books, (Oliver-Nelson Books, 1987).

Gary Bergel is president of Intercessors for America. Reprinted with permission of Intercessors for America, P.O. Box 4477, Leesburg, VA 22075; (800) 872-7729.


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Your comments are welcome!

I’m thankful that Bibles and prayer was allowed in school when I was growing up, and prayer for lunch. I see the difference in the new generation and how the lack of these things play a big role in our society today.

Posted by Rose Linville on 07/23/2009 07:34 PM #

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Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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